Il Poggiolo is an estate winery in Località Sasso al Vento in Montalcino, 3km from the town itself in Tuscany, Italy. Its main wines are Rosso di Montalcino DOC and Brunello di Montalcino DOCG plus Sant’Antimo DOC and Montecucco DOC.
Owner: Rodolfo ‘Rudy’ Cosimi (Born 24 July 1966 in Siena). He was a European motorcycle hill climb champion, then a successful rally racing driver. Loves fast bikes, cars, art and music. His wife is Cecilia Martinez (Argentina). Their daughter is Clara. The house is an interesting eco pre-fab. Hid first VinItaly aged 17.
Background: The estate was founded in 1971 when Roberto and his father Bramante Cosimi bought an uninhabited farm and planted Sangiovese. When Roberto (Rudy’s father) died in 1984 Rudy was in his teens. He took responsibility initially for the his family’s fortunes, but also for the reputation of his father’s wines. The style created by his father Roberto, the backbone of the production, are the wines with the black label. Rudy has added ‘Terra Rossa’ and ‘Beato’, both Brunello wines with very particular characteristics. Rudy took production from the 7,000 bottles comfortably handled at the old farmhouse, to closer to 50,000. In 2003 the farm was split when his brother Renzo returned to Montalcino and went his own way, claiming his right to half of the estate, and moving into the old farmhouse and using the old cellar. Renzo named his estate Poggio dell’Aquila, leaving ‘Rodolfo with the Il Poggiolo brand name. Rudy and Cecilia moved across the valley to a new underground, purpose-built cellar where they still live now and make around 30,000 bottles a year. The division left Rudy with 3 hectares of vineyard to the south of Montalcino at an altitude of 470m. The climate here is cool to a point that Cecilia no longer wants a swimming pool. Production is now around 30,000 bottles now Rudy has less land. ‘This should curb his habit of making far too many wines, though I doubt it will,’ (Ben Robson).
Terroir: ‘Tessitura franca sabbiosa’ with clay and plenty of stony galestro. The topsoils are stony mixed with calcium-rich clays on limestone. Rudy told me (Visit 2020) he had one vineyard with four soil types.
Vineyards: 35ha of land in total. South-west facing vineyards. But a cool site. The first vines were planted by Rudy’s father and grandfather (see above). From 1988 Rudy commenced the second planting, creating ‘Terra Rossa’ whose bottle labels are adorned with Rudi’s paintings. In 2020 there were 8.5ha in total. There were 2.45ha of Sangiovese for Brunello di Montalcino DOCG, 2ha of Sangiovese for Rosso di Montalcino DOC. Non-Sangiovese grapes include Malbec, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Syrah for IGT Toscana wines, 1ha of Sant’Antimo DOC and 2.5ha of Montecucco. The winery vineyard comprises 3ha (2020), faces south-west and is at 460 metres in Località Le Prata (near the Le Potazzine and Villa Le Prata estates).
Viticulture: The vineyards are farmed using a minimum of intervention, Rudy has little time for certifications, organic or otherwise. For Sangiovese: spurred cordon, 70cm above the ground, 5,000 vines per hectare (2.5m x 0.80m).
Winemaking: Rudy seems to like new oak but he told me (Visit 2020) ‘Sangiovese on galestro soils gives textured, fluid wines which suffer with over-oaking. From 2017 Rudy put loud speakers in some barrels which are played different music: one English language, the other Italian, to see what, if any effect this may have.’ ‘There is absolutely no doubt that Rudy is an extraordinary and skilled winemaker with a foot in both [traditionalist and modernist] Brunello camps,’ (Ben Robson, perso). He uses three types of French oak in his barrels.
Wine range: Rudy told me (Visit 2020) he made lots of different wines ‘because I like variety’. The Terra Rosso line dates from 1994. The sparkling wines date from 2009. Biounasega dates fro 2011.
Le Mie Bollecine Bianco, Metodo Classico Vino Spumante Brut: Traditional method sparkling white wine. 2013 100% Sangiovese fermented as a white wine. Fresh, clean grapefruit flavours, herb and blackcurrant leaf, lime and salt. | 2014 48 months on the lees. No dosage.
Le Mie Bollecine Rosato, Metodo Charmat: A sparkling wine (Charmat) made from Sangiovese created in a difficult harvest in which Sangiovese struggled to ripen fully. The name means ‘My Bubbles’ or ‘My Bubbly’. Initially it spent 18 months on the lees, subsequently extended to up to 36 months.
Bionasega: The name is an irreverent dig at organics or ‘bio’, whilst ‘sega’ is the colloquial term for masturbation or ‘wank’ in Italian. Bionasega might translate as ‘wanky organics’ or ‘I couldn’t give a toss about organics’. Exactly which grapes go into the blend are “C.M” which is an acronym for ‘cavoli miei’ or ‘my business’. | 2011 Again, very nice perfume, Alpine, Burgundian, delicious tannin, lovely length (Anteprima 2016).
Bionasega da Corsa, Toscana Rosso IGT: The name is the same as for the wine above with the added ‘da corsa’ meaning ‘racing’ (referring to Rudy Cosimi’s previous sporting career) in the sense of ‘at speed’. 50% Sangiovese, 50% a mix–Syrah, Pinot Noir and others, which changes every year.
Bottacio, Toscana Rosso IGT: The wine Ben Robson ‘originally fell for back in 1996 but which is sadly no more.’
Oltre, Toscana Rosso:
Sasso Nero, Toscana Rosso IGT: 1998 The first vintage. 100% Sangiovese from both Montalcino and sometimes partly from Grosseto which is aged in used barriques for three months (Source: Ben Robson of Bat & Bottle). | 2020 Rudy told me during my visit in 2020 this wine is now mainly, but not 100% Sangiovese now.
Sant’Antimo Rosso DOC, Sasso al Vento 262′: This is the winery’s address. Syrah, Merlot. 2009 4,000 bottles. Thick, too much chocolate for me (Anteprima 2014).
Sant’Antimo Rosso DOC, In Riva al Fosso: This was an Amarone style wine made from Sangiovese in 1998 and 2000.
Rosso di Montalcino DOC
Rosso di Montalcino DOC, Il Poggiolo: 2013 20,000 bottles. Classic cedar, lots of weight for a Rosso, ripe and some over-ripeness but not jammy, savoury fruit tannin and with balanced alcohol (Anteprima 2015).
Rosso di Montalcino DOC, Sassello: Ben Robson says that in many ways his favourite Il Poggiolo wine is the Rosso di Montalcino Sassello, with 12 months in barrel and mirrors the vintage with honesty and confidence. It is fined with egg whites and bottled without filtration. In 2018 the Il Poggiolo website said this was made with the same grapes as used for the Brunello. | 2011 8,000 bottles. Bit of funk maybe, sweet fruit, sticky berries (Anteprima 2014). | 2014 Very nice cherry, really pure and refreshing (Anteprima 2014). | 2018 6,000 bottles.
Rosso di Montalcino DOC, Sassello Contrario: 2015 2,000 bottles.
Rosso di Montalcino DOC, Quello Buono: 2012 4,000 bottles. Quite rich sweet berries (Anteprima 2014).
Rosso di Montalcino DOC, Terra Rossa: 450 metres. Loc. Il Poggiolo. Sandy topsoil with limestone plate and abundant rocks. 12 months in barrel. ‘This will appeal to the oak hunters,’ says Ben Robson of Bat & Bottle. | 2018 4,000 bottles.
Brunello di Montalcino DOCG
Brunello di Montalcino DOCG, Beato: Usually released year after Poggiolo, has a different fermentation with shorter maceration and more attention paid to controlling temperature during fermentation and barrels of different sizes and made from different woods are also used. ‘Beato was super successful with Decanter in the early days, it was experimental and very good,’ says Ben Robson.
Brunello di Montalcino DOCG Bramante Cosimi: 2007 Produced. | 2009 27,000 bottles. Sweet, ripe, nice and classic, bit uneven at end but OK (Anteprima 2014). | 2012 Lovely fruit clarity, modernist (Anteprima 2017).
Brunello di Montalcino DOCG, Five Stars: Not sure why he chose this name.
Brunello di Montalcino DOCG, Il Poggiolo: Rudy told me (Visit, 2020) that he fermented this in stainless steel for 30-35 days at a max of 30°C but keeps cooling it down down to 24 °C via pump overs, aiming to get more aromatics. Aged in 40hl botti. Ben Robson said he ‘ always preferred the black labelled Brunello [compared to Terra Rossa, below], which is made the old way with a long fermentation in open oak casks and ageing for two years in large casks. It is a wine created by his father Roberto and it has remained largely unchanged over the years,’ says Ben Robson. | 2000 Ripe, elegant tannin, quite tight and classic, liquorice, red berries, decent if a little bit hard, but with appealing vibrancy (Anteprima 2005). | 2010 Really good, sweet ripe, rich savoury weight and long, elegant, very nice now, very good (Anteprima 2015). | 2011 Lovely tipicità and structure, very perfumed (Anteprima 2016). | 2013 Exists. | 2015 6,666 bottles.
Brunello di Montalcino DOC, Sassello: Rudy told me Visit, 2020) the first vintage of Sassello was 1985, based on old Sangiovese vines (planted 1971) making it one of the first ‘cru’ or site specific Brunellos.
Brunello di Montalcino DOCG, Terra Rossa: The name means Red Earth because it is from Sangiovese on sol rich in iron and magnesium. ‘Rudy releases a number of Brunello wines, much I suspect depends on his American importer for whom he created Terra Rossa, an unashamedly modernist Brunello that is aged in French [Tronçais] vats and American barrels for a minimum of 24 months,’ says Ben Robson of Bat & Bottle. | 2007 Plenty, perhaps too much French oak. | 2009 8,000 bottles. | 2011 Slightly farmyardy initially on the nose, then very nice layered tannin, very savoury and clear but textured (Anteprima 2016). | 2015 5,333 bottles.
Brunello di Montalcino DOCG Riserva
Riserva wines with the black label are released in the best years, though these vintages do not always correspond with those issued by the Consorzio di Brunello.
Brunello di Montalcino DOCG Riserva, Beato: A ‘cru’ riserva made in tiny quantities. | 1999 ‘Beato’ Highly rated by John Atkinson MW. | 2006 Produced
Brunello di Montalcino DOCG Riserva, Il Mio Brunello DOCG: 2004 Debut. ‘Very modern, very impressive, very expensive,’ (Ben Robson of Bat & Bottle). | 2006 Produced.
Brunello di Montalcino DOCG Riserva, Il Poggiolo: Rudy told me (Visit 2020) this was fermented in vertical 500–600 litre tonneaux with the top end knocked out for manual punch downs. Get more colour and body, and slower ferments. | 2006 Produced. | 2008 5,333 bottles. | 2010 Fruit, depth, ripeness, very very young, vibrant cherry, really outstanding (Anteprima 2016). | 2012 Last vintage with the old label. | 2013 Re-designed label.
Brunello di Montalcino DOCG Riserva, Sassello: A ‘cru’ riserva made in tiny quantities. | 1995 Produced.
Brunello di Montalcino DOCG Riserva, Terra Rossa: 2012 24 in oak (225-litre barrels and 500-litre tonneaux).
Loc. Sasso al Vento 262, I-53024 Montalcino (SI = Siena), Italy
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